2 Kings 4:42-44
A man came from Baal-shalishah bringing to Elisha, the man of God, twenty barley loaves made from the firstfruits, and fresh grain in the ear. Elisha said, “Give it to the people to eat.” But his servant objected, “How can I set this before a hundred people?” Elisha insisted, “Give it to the people to eat.” “For thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and there shall be some left over.'” And when they had eaten, there was some left over, as the Lord had said.
Brothers and sisters: I, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live in a manner worthy of the call you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
Gospel Cycle Cycle B
Jesus went across the Sea of Galilee. A large crowd followed him, because they saw the signs he was performing on the sick. Jesus went up on the mountain, and there he sat down with his disciples. The Jewish feast of Passover was near. When Jesus raised his eyes and saw that a large crowd was coming to him, he said to Philip, “Where can we buy enough food for them to eat?” He said this to test him, because he himself knew what he was going to do. Philip answered him, “Two hundred days’ wages worth of food would not be enough for each of them to have a little.” One of his disciples, Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, said to him, “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish; but what good are these for so many?” Jesus said, “Have the people recline.” Now there was a great deal of grass in that place. So the men reclined, about five thousand in number. Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed them to those who were reclining, and also as much of the fish as they wanted. When they had had their fill, he said to his disciples, “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So they collected them, and filled twelve wicker baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves that had been more than they could eat. When the people saw the sign he had done, they said, “This is truly the Prophet, the one who is to come into the world.” Since Jesus knew that they were going to come and carry him off to make him king, he withdrew again to the mountain alone.
Do you really believe that God will take care of you? The first reading and the Gospel today insist that God watches over us and always gives us enough. The stories are about giving food to eat, but if God is going to give us food to eat, He will surely give us all that we really need. Food can be a symbol of all that we need to live.
There are saints in our Catholic tradition who have trusted so much in Divine Providence that they have never even thought about money or about their own needs. Most of us are not quite that trusting. Today’s readings invite us to grow in this kind of trust.
Elisha the Prophet was the great follower of Elijah. They are really strong spiritual figures in the literature of our Jewish ancestors. Because they were totally committed to the Lord, the Lord was totally committed to them. That doesn’t mean at all that they had an easy life. On the contrary, the more we trust in the Lord, the more He seems to test us.
The Gospel of John today states so clearly that Jesus was testing Philip. At any point, Philip could have failed the test and told Jesus to leave him alone. Instead, he does what Jesus asks of him. That is so important in the spiritual life: do what the Lord asks of you. Today, far too often, we believe that our own insights are better than the word of God. Instead, the word of God brings life, holiness, joy and peace. Our own insights might bring pleasure and momentary happiness, but it never lasts.
The Letter to the Ephesians sums up what it means to live as a follower of Jesus: we must have humility, gentleness, patience, bear with one another through love, strive to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace. That is really an incredible way to live. It sounds wonderful but it will take a complete commitment on our part to live that way.
Jesus will take care of us. He will feed us, spiritually and physically. He will show us how we can live those qualities of the Letter to the Ephesians. Jesus will not make our lives easy, but He will show us the wonders of His love.